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Letter: Marijuana legalization comes with many risks

A recent poll conducted by Emerson College states that the majority of New Yorkers do not support the full legalization of marijuana. Instead, the poll shows that 56 percent of respondents supported the legalization of medical marijuana, repealing decriminalization, were unsure of their stance, or favored full reinstatement of criminalization.

This comes as a stark contrast to other polls that emitted biased information on the precipice that there are only two options available for our future marijuana policy: full recreational legalization or complete prohibition. Those same polls drop to 27 percent legalization favor when the poll population is given a truer image of the marijuana policies available. The Emerson poll also found that the majority of New Yorkers do not support marijuana advertising or marijuana stores in their neighborhoods.

Fifty percent of those polled were also against edibles such as gummies and candies being available to the public.

As a prevention agency, it is the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse’s responsibility to educate the community on the health risks associated with marijuana use. The notion of legalized marijuana promotes a false message that the drug is safe and acceptable.

Marijuana is known to impede brain development and amplify mental health issues, especially in adolescents. Commercial legalization could promote a growth in the marijuana industry and heighten usage. Altering the social norms surrounding the drug puts adolescents at a higher risk of marijuana usage disorders.

Both the tobacco and alcohol industries target youth through advertisements and marketing strategies. The alcohol industry claims roughly half of its yearly profits from the underage market, and the same is to be expected from the marijuana industry if there is full legalization. Marijuana usage also correlates to crime, accidents, lowered job performance, higher school drop-out rates, and many mental, emotional, psychological, and physical complications.

Joshua Vacanti

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